Sunday, October 7, 2012

Days of Halloween Redux: Aparecidos

2007, Paco Cabezas -- download

Desaparecidos or the "forcibly disappeared" were the victims of Argentina's "Dirty War" in the 70s and 80s.  Not really a war,  the government dealt with dissidents through abduction, torture, murder and ultimately, the denial they had even done anything.  People were just ... gone.  The history of it haunts the survivors to even this day.

Pablo and Malena arrive from Spain to take care of their father's last days, and his estate.  He lies decrepit in a bed attached to machines leaving the two siblings to both sign the order to turn off.  Malena hates her father and wants him gone while Pablo barely knew his father and wouldn't mind spending some time getting to know the man.  They decide to take a road trip in their father's car to the house of their childhood in Buenos Aires.  But their father's legacy haunts their trip changing its purpose completely.

This is a strange little movie, a ghost story with hints of time travel but more about the sense of responsibility for the crimes of family.  Their dad was not a nice man, in fact their dad was basically the  model antagonist of many horror movies, a psychotic torturer of men, women and children. As Pablo learns more and more of what his father was capable of, via the repeated playback of events 20 years past, by ghosts of his victims, he desires to change things.  If he can interact with the ghosts maybe he can influence them to not ... well, die again.  No, it could never be that easy and all it really does is put them on their father's radar.

What I liked about this movie was that it dispensed with most tropes of ghost movies.  The dead were not aware they were dead and the siblings blood connection must have allowed the direct contact they had with the ghosts.  Pablo could carry the doomed little girl but he could not save her.  And if their father was still lying on his death bed, how could he be haunting his children? The only failing in the movie was a murky motivation by all the spirits involved. Did the spirits of the wronged only seek recognition?  Perhaps the same of the wrong doer?